Funding inequalities mean people living in rural Yorkshire have up to £500 per head less spent on their public services a year than in London, it was claimed last night.
Leaders of England’s largest rural councils yesterday told Communities Secretary Sajid Javid that a new deal was needed for local authorities outside urban areas to avoid the need for damaging cuts to frontline services.
According to the County Councils Network, which is holding its annual conference, England’s 37 county areas received £3.2bn less than the English average, averaging £650 per person in 2017/18 for vital public services such as adult social care and bus travel.
This year, taxpayers in North Yorkshire received funding for their public services worth £836 per person, while those in the East Riding saw £671 per head. In contrast, inner London taxpayers saw funding of £1,190 per head and Outer London £944.
With the Budget a day away, Paul Carter, Chairman of the County Councils Network and Leader of Kent County Council warned of concerns that the Government’s review of local government finance will not resolve the ‘postcode lottery’ on funding.
He said: “Our services are threatened and under pressure like never before. Unless these inequalities are addressed, many of the highly valued services to our public will diminish or disappear.
This impacts on the daily lives on our residents, all whilst they unfairly subsidise services enjoyed in other parts of the country through higher council tax bills.Paul Carter, Chairman of the County Councils Network
“For too long now, the 26 million people in England’s shire counties have not received a fair share of national resources.
“This means our shire heartlands are receiving an eye-watering £3.2bn less than other parts of the country for services.
“This impacts on the daily lives on our residents, all whilst they unfairly subsidise services enjoyed in other parts of the country through higher council tax bills. This is outdated and chronically unfair.”
County leaders say they have little choice but to raise council tax to make up the shortfall and that their residents are unfairly subsidising the services enjoyed in other parts of the country.
The warning comes after Carl Les, the leader of North Yorkshire County Council, said fairer long-term funding was needed for large rural counties and that the apparent handicap faced by rural areas was exacerbating the pressure on local services.
He said people in North Yorkshire pay almost twice as much council tax in relative terms as those in urban and London boroughs like Westminster and Camden and receive less Government funding, yet the costs tend to be higher.
The county council has to save £43m from its revenue budget by 2019/20. It has made plans for £33m of savings, bringing the total to nearly £170m over the decade, representing a cut of 34 per cent in its spending power.
The authority yesterday welcomed the announcement of a Government Green Paper on adult social care next summer, meaning its leaders will be able to have their say on the “enormous pressure” it faces delivering services.
A DCLG spokesman said: “We’ve been clear that as part of our forthcoming Fair Funding Review we want to make sure councils – including those serving rural communities that face particular challenges – are funded taking into account their local needs and circumstances.”